Saturday July 02, 2022

SC ‘feeling’ heat of coronavirus

June 09, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed the federal government to make legislation for combating COVID-19 and ensure its implementation on national level.

The court also modified its previous order and withdrew its decision of opening markets and shopping malls over the weekend and allowed the government to form its own policy in this regard.

Last month, the court order opening of shops and markets for seven days a week to facilitate the public for Eid shopping, which were earlier shut down during the lockdown.

A four-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard suo motu case regarding combating COVID-19.

Attorney General Khalid Javed, Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood and Idress Mehsud, Member (Legal) National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) appeared before the court.

The court directed the federal government to take the matter of legislation for combatingthe pandemic seriously and ensure its implementation on national level Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that China had immediately enacted laws for dealing with the pandemic.

The court also directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to submit before it on the next date of hearing complete details pertaining to the import of machinery for preparation of medical equipment as well as details regarding the aircraft taken on lease from Turkey for locust spray.

Similarly, the court directed that the federal government, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) as well as all the provincial governments and AJK should ensure provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to all the sanitary workers with further direction that sanitary workers should not be allowed to indulge in going into sewage without proper kits.

The court also directed that all the respective governments should ensure that all facilities are provided to the sanitary workers besides enacting laws for their protection. Earlier, during the course of proceeding, the court expressed its reservations about testing capacity of the pandemic.

Idrees Mehsud, Member Legal, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) while replying to court queries submitted that the testing capacity has been increased to 30,000 tests per day.

He further informed the court that at present there are 100 laboratories in the country conducting test for coronavirus.

The chief justice, however, observed that it is very less for a country with a 200 million population adding that 100 laboratories should only be set up in Karachi, which has the largest population.

The chief justice asked that out of the these 100 laboratories, how many are run by the government and private sector. The NDMA member legal, however, replied that they are only supplying medical equipment to these laboratories adding that the Ministry of Health could better inform the court in this regard.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen, another member of the bench, observed that the NDMA should have proper statistics in this regard. When asked as to whether test for the pandemic is conducted free of cost by the facilities available at the government level, the Member Legal NDMA replied in affirmative.

To a question about number of ventilators available for the COVID-19 patients, the Member Legal, NDMA submitted that China had donated 100 ventilators. He further informed the court that it has placed order for 1473 ICU ventilators on June 5, 2020 out of which 341 have been delivered while 245 ventilators are expected to be delivered by June 15, 2020. To a question, he said that ventilators are also being manufactured by POF, Wah as well as in private sector. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.